How to Get Bigger Legs Fast | Real Results in 4 Weeks

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: February 20, 2024
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To efficiently gain bigger legs, it's essential to follow targeted leg workout routines and maintain consistency.

Diet is also a key factor; consider taking meals high in calories and if needed add protein supplements to your diet.

This nutritional approach, along with creatine-rich supplements, supports leg muscle growth. Balancing leg training with upper body workouts ensures overall body proportion.

After extensive research and drawing from my coaching experience, I've compiled this guide to help you achieve notable improvements in leg size and strength.

Quick Summary

  • To achieve bigger legs fast, engage in exercises targeting specific muscle groups like quadriceps, hamstrings, and use supplements like creatine.
  • Incorporating a variety of exercises, including squats and deadlifts, and varying rep ranges are key strategies for leg development.
  • A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows that heavy resistance training boosts testosterone and growth hormone, leading to 38% faster muscle growth in higher frequency groups.
  • Personally, I believe consistency in both diet and training is the most crucial factor for anyone aiming to enhance their leg size and strength.

The 6 Leg Muscles You Need To Target

Your legs are split into several areas, all of which are going to need to be targeted in order to fully round-off your leg development on the whole.

1. Quadriceps

Your “quads” (often referred to as thighs) sit above the knee line and form the upper section of the front of your leg.

This area is hugely important to creating an impressive appearance, as it is the first area people see when they look at your bigger legs. A lot of exercises are focused on this part.

In my coaching experience, focusing on quads has always been a game-changer for those seeking impressive leg appearance.

2. Hamstrings

Man showing his Hamstrings

Your hamstrings sit above the knee line at the back of the leg, in exactly the same area as the quad muscle is on the front of the leg.

This area is often quite well developed in many leg trainees though not always for the right reasons.

3. Hip Adductors

Person showing his Hip-Adductors

Speaking of surrounding areas, the hip adductors (or the “inner” thighs) are easily one of the most overlooked aspects of quad development.

Hip abductors are to hamstring and glute development. Working out your hip adductors is an integral part if you want to get bigger legs.

In my training, I've seen great improvements by not overlooking the hip adductors, an area often missed but vital for well-rounded leg development.

You can also check out the best hip adductors exercises here.

4. Hip Abductors

Person doing Hip-Abductors

Your hip abductors (or outer thigh muscles) function in exactly the same way as the inner thigh muscles do. Save for the fact that they side on the outside of the legs facing outwards.

Same as hip adductors, these are also important in exercising to achieve bigger legs.

5. Glutes

Man doing squats

Your glutes are your butt muscles, and is one of the most important group to develop for any female wanting to create an amazing set of legs.

If your glutes are underdeveloped, your bigger legs are going to look seriously unbalanced and underwhelming - this applies especially for you men.

From my coaching perspective, developing glutes is essential for anyone aiming for impressive legs; it's a game-changer for both men and women.

6. Calves

Man showing Calves

In case you were wondering whether or not calves are important...they are, and if you skip them you’ll simply pay the price because people will notice.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was guilty of neglecting his calves when his professional bodybuilding career first started to develop - learn from his experience and learn to how to build bigger calves.

The Keys to Getting Bigger Legs

Effective leg training aligns with the Pareto principle: focus on the vital 20% of exercises that truly contribute to leg growth, rather than spending too much time on less effective ones.

This involves not just selecting the right exercises but also varying your rep ranges and set counts to maximize growth.

Many miss out on significant leg development by overlooking this crucial approach.

1. Lift Heavy On Your Compound Lifts

Everyone wants amazing legs, but nobody wants to squat or lift heavy weights on leg day. From my experience, consistently squatting and lifting heavy was the turning point for my clients who saw dramatic leg growth.

These elements are hard, and people don’t like them - they would prefer to avoid them.

Squats, Romanian deadlifts, normal deadlifts, heavy leg pressing and any other leg press variants when performed with perfect form (and heavy weights) will create an amazing structural development of your legs.

You should see leg press and other types of exercises as building the framework for isolation (singular muscle) exercises to further develop - you’ll need to perform both higher and lower leg press rep ranges with these compound movements to achieve maximum results.

2. Vary Your Rep Ranges

You’re going to need to perform heavy, low volume leg press reps one or two weeks in a row, then change the game completely and lighten the load whilst going for a higher rep range with a set exercise.

At no one point should you ever stick with one leg press set rep or weight range unless you’re specifically training for sports performance - we’re going to take a wild guess that you’re here primarily for appearance purposes though as opposed to athletically charged reasons. With that in mind; variety is the spice of life.

3. Vary Your Exercises

If you simply perform three sets of 8 reps for every exercise you perform with them, you’re never going to see the kind of development you’re looking for, even for leg press.

You can get away with this with the upper body but your legs simply aren’t going to respond to this training approach in the same way, or at least; not for long.

"As far as what your workout should look like, change it up! It doesn’t need to look the same every time."
- Dana Linn Bailey, Professional Physique Athlete

The focus word for leg progression is “variety”, as some of the top professional physique athletes including the aforementioned Dana Linn Bailey are well aware of.

You’re going to need a healthy mix of high rep ranges, low rep ranges, compound exercises, isolation exercises and training techniques to make some serious headway for your leg press and leg curls.

In my gym, we shake things up; sticking to the same routine doesn't cut it. Variety in exercises and reps is key for continuous leg development.

The Best Leg Exercises You Need to get Bigger Legs

OK, hopefully I haven’t lost you with all the theory, but it’s important that you get these concepts, as it will make a big difference on your ability to stick to a dedicated leg routine.

The following list of 7 leg exercises is what I use almost exclusively on my leg days for building muscle. I’ll also share with you the different combinations of sets that I alternate between.

Beyond building muscle, leg exercises like squats and deadlifts trigger a significant hormonal response, increasing the production of testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor, which plays a crucial role in enhancing metabolic health and overall muscle growth.

1. Barbell Squats

Man doing barbell squat

OK, hopefully I haven’t lost you with all the theory, but it’s important that you get these concepts, as it will make a big difference on your ability to stick to a dedicated leg routine.

The following list of 7 leg exercises is what I use almost exclusively on my leg days. I’ll also share with you the different combinations of sets that I alternate between.

2. Front Squats

Man doing front squat

The great thing with these is that you will shift your center of gravity slightly forward and that has a big impact on how much your muscles become engaged. You will notice much more pressure on your core and quads.

My tip for front squats is to go easy with the weight at first. It’s a completely different balancing exercise, and there is a lot of strain on your shoulders. Once you get used to the weight, then it’s a great idea to alternate front and back versions between sets.

During my workouts, front squats have been instrumental in shifting my center of gravity, engaging my muscles more intensely, especially the core and quads.

3. Stiff Leg Deadlifts

Man doing stiff leg deadlift

The stiff leg deadlifts is the exercise for the showman. Yes, I love doing it, and I find great motivation in the very large numbers I can write down on my rep sheet. However, according to the BMC Sports Science, Medicine & Rehabilitation, while stiff leg deadlifts might look simple, you have to pay close attention to keeping a straight back [1].

The damage you can do if you get your posture wrong can put you out of action for a long time. Bonus Tip: Don’t go and take the barbell from the bench press. You’ll just end up pissing off other members, and your gym should have a dedicated area for squatting and stiff leg deadlifts.

4. Romanian Deadlift

Man doing romanian deadlift

When it comes to Romanian deadlifts, it’s all about proper form. Because of the way you lift the barbell without bending your knees, bad technique can cause a huge amount of pressure on your lower back.

And that’s a recipe for lining a chiropractor’s pockets. So, for your health and financial wellbeing, make sure you have a fitness instructor to show you the right way. When you get this exercise right though, you will definitely feel every single muscle in your legs and core.

5. Leg Extensions

Man doing leg extensions

A lot of bodybuilders don’t favor the leg extensions in their sets, because it only targets the quads. However, I find they work extremely well when you pile on the weight and take your time.

However, because leg extensions only target one leg muscle, you will have to balance it with other exercises for optimal muscle growth. Otherwise, it can quickly happen that your leg muscles look completely out of proportion. And that’s why the next two exercises after leg extensions are on this list.

You can check out our list of the best leg extension machines.

6. Lying Leg Curls

Woman doing lying leg curl

To balance the leg extensions, you have to add the leg curl for your leg muscle fibers. The leg curls machine works similarly, but instead of straightening your leg with the weight, you will pull in your heels.

These leg workouts are an excellent way to put a lot of weight on your hamstrings without adding the pressure to your back and shoulders. These targeted leg workouts are the best option if you have any weaknesses in these muscle groups.

Incorporating lying leg curls has been a personal key to balancing quad-focused leg extensions, targeting my hamstring muscles effectively.

7. Standing And Seated Calf Raises

Man doing calf raises

Finally, the calf raise will be vital to avoid having cocktail stick lower legs with a massive bulk sitting on top. It’s the kind of lollipop effect that isn’t all that flattering for this muscle group [2].

Standing calf raises are the best as you can add some significant weight to the calf muscle. Make sure you do them slowly and even change the direction your toes are pointing from inwards to outwards. You’ll be amazed by how much this little adjustment will add to the calf muscles.

You can also check out some more calf exercises here.

The Leg Workout for Bigger & Thicker Legs

man with big legs

As a coach, I've taken many through this journey. Let's dive into a strategy that has proven effective for gaining leg size.

A common mistake is cramming all leg exercises into a single day each week. This approach often leads to excessive soreness and may hinder your progress.

Research supports a more frequent training schedule: splitting your leg workouts into two sessions per week can lead to superior results and quicker muscle growth, without the excessive pain of a once-a-week marathon session. The added testosterone and growth hormones that are produced on these days will also help with all your other goals [3].

The psychological benefits of leg training are as significant as the physical ones. Engaging in rigorous leg workouts not only strengthens the body but also releases endorphins, fostering a sense of achievement and contributing to mental well-being.

Now, let me introduce you to my leg workouts plan that helped me build bigger legs and muscle growth in quite a short space of time. As mentioned, you shouldn’t be doing these every day. Pick two days a week and alternate between these two sets:

Workout A - Monday

  • Barbell squats 4 sets x 8 reps
  • Romanian deadlifts 3 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Leg extensions 4 sets x 15 reps
  • Seated calf raises 3 sets x 15 reps

Workout B - Thursday

  • Deadlift 4 sets x 4-6 reps
  • Front squats 4 sets x 8-10 reps
  • Lying leg curls 4 sets x 10-15 reps
  • Standing calf raises 3 sets x 15 reps

By the end of a leg workout day, you should be walking like tin man in the Wizard of Oz!

Before you think that you can get all these done in 20 minutes, we should explain that you have to add some resting time between each set, especially for the front squat. I usually aim for about 3 minutes for sets with 4-6 reps and 2 minutes for the 8-15 reps.

You can adapt this dependent on how you feel your body is doing, but this is what works for me. Some people say that 2 minutes is the maximum, but when you pile on some serious weight, then some extra time will go a long way.

The Diet: Not-so-secret Secrets

The secret to building stronger and bigger legs with more lean muscle mass is obviously regular hard work in the gym. But all that will be completely wasted if your diet doesn’t support it. In my years of coaching, I've observed that diet is just as crucial as gym work for building strong, bigger legs.

When it comes to food intake, I used to make some really amateur mistakes. It took several weeks of working with a dietitian to figure out what was wrong.

Ultimately, it came down to 2 things, and when I talk to people at the gym who are struggling to put on muscle mass, then these tips always turn things around for them. Here are my not so secret secrets:

1. Eat More Calories

meals with high calories

Without fail, this is the number one reason why people don’t bulk up.

If you have a really hard training plan and go to the gym at least once a day, then you need to eat two or three times as much as the average person. That’s probably going to be 5 large meals a day.

Otherwise, you will be burning more energy than you’re taking in and you go into a weight loss mode even when there isn’t much fat to burn. And that will make building muscle impossible.

Tip: The important thing is to focus on high-calorie whole foods and to stay away from junk food full of unhealthy fat. Lot’s of grain, meat, fish, beans, veg, and nuts are going to have to be piled up on a plate to give you the energy you’ll need.

2. Eat More Protein

The number one building block of muscle tissue is protein. The big problem you will have is to get enough protein into your body through the food you eat, even considering the amounts you’re eating.

Nutrition supplements are your best option as you will have a lot more flexibility to boost your protein intake at the right time.

Let’s face, you’ll hardly feel like digging into a few chicken breasts immediately after your workouts.

Tip: Buy protein shake powder in those giant bags you can get. It might cost a bit upfront, but you’ll save a fortune this way.

4 Final Tips

As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if you want to speed up the process of building up some serious leg muscle, then there are some extra tips I can share with you.

Drawing from my years of coaching, let me share four crucial tips that have helped my clients accelerate their leg muscle development.

But if you don’t have a dedicated coach, then try to find someone to work with at the gym who has similar goals with leg workouts. That way you can keep each other accountable and make sure you don’t skip these things during the leg workout.

1. Warm Up Properly

This is something that actually gives me nightmares, when I see people arrive at the gym and spend 5 minutes on a treadmill before diving into heavy sets.

If you’re going to do that, then rather than build muscle, you’re just going to set yourself up for serious injury after your leg workout.

Proper form is vital to successful muscle training during your leg workout routine, and the only way you can get there is by having a good warm-up routine.

Get your heart pumping and your blood flowing. Cold muscles are not only going to tear more easily, but they won’t perform at maximum levels either.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Here’s what my routine used to look like. Get home from the gym at around 8 and have my final meal of the day after leg training.

Then do another hour or two of work before another snack. Finish off the day with some light stretching and yoga and watch some TV.

I would go to bed around 12:30 and get up at 6 to start the day over again. It felt OK to me, but the 5 hours of sleep were nowhere near enough to let my body and mind recover from multiple workouts in the day while ensuring muscle growth.

Make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep and try to go to bed by 11. It will make the world of difference.

3. Don’t Bother With Cardio

man doing cardio

If you want to lose fat and experience muscle growth, then lots of cardio is what you need. But when you want to bulk up, then cardio will just end up wasting precious energy and time.

Now, you can do cardio exercises as part of your warm up routine, as they are great at getting your muscles warmed-up without too much strain. But 10 to 15 minutes is more than enough.

4. Foam Rolling And Stretching

My own daily routine usually involves two trips to the gym with various amounts of strength training.

One thing my fitness coach has always encouraged me to do at the end of every day is to spend about 30 minutes with a foam roller and do some light stretching for tight or sore legs.

What the foam roller does is boost circulation to sore muscles, kind of like a massage. This delivers more nutrients to your muscles to help them repair and speed up recovery time.

And the stretching helps to loosen tense muscle fibers and improve overall flexibility. The more muscle you build the less flexible you can become, so make sure you avoid this with some simple stretching. I also find this helps me wind down at night to get some better sleep.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5513080/
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15438627.2018.1492397?journalCode=gspm20
  3. https://www.strongerbyscience.com/frequency-muscle/
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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